September 8, 2009 / 5:38 PM / 10 years ago

Climate cash could create "Copenhagen stimulus"

LONDON (Reuters) - Climate talks could draw on global recovery spending to smooth a deal in Copenhagen in December to replace the Kyoto Protocol, said Nick Robins, head of HSBC’s climate change research center.

HSBC analysts estimate the green portion of a $3.1 trillion fiscal stimulus at about $512 billion.

Those funds to boost renewable energy, efficiency, public transport and water treatment so far exclusively focus on domestic economies and jobs, but could be turned to the aid of faltering U.N. talks meant to agree a new climate treaty.

“If we’re anywhere near the $500 billion we’ve identified, then one should hope there is some scope for governments to think about a contribution that would be the Copenhagen stimulus,” Robins said at the Reuters Global Climate and Alternative Energy Summit.

“The missing element in the stimulus debate is that all the stimulus angles, unsurprisingly, have been very domestically focused, stimulating our economy, our sectors.”

“The question is how can we frame Copenhagen so actually this is about stimulating those parts of the world, poorer developing countries, hit hard by the crisis.”

“The test is going to be the Pittsburgh summit,” Robins told the Reuters Global Climate and Alternative Energy Summit, referring to a September 24-25 meeting of world leaders where finance ministers are meant to report progress on climate funds.

No offers of money from rich nations are yet on the table three months before the Copenhagen meeting. A London finance ministers meeting at the weekend yielded no progress.

Draft European Union papers seen by Reuters suggest that if anything the 27-nation bloc is curbing planned contributions to a climate fund for poor nations.

RECOVERY

The global economic crisis has underlined how the private sector will have to provide most cash to fight climate change, but big investors need more clarity, said Robins.

“If there’s been one disappointment this year it has been, maybe for understandable negotiating reasons, that the financial discussions have very, very little visibility about what could be on the table.”

“What’s new and different is that there is very active discussion within the institutional investment community about getting involved,” he told Reuters in London.

Public financing options to kick-start private finance include climate bonds, whereby a global agency sells bonds in capital markets on the promise that governments re-pay these over a period of time, or loan guarantees.

“The dialogue has started. But the question remains ... you need some seed capital to kick-start that. That’s why Copenhagen’s so important. We do need the (emissions) targets, the national policies put in place.”

(For summit blog: blogs.reuters.com/summits/)

Editing by Greg Mahlich

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